But Republican lawmakers and senior congressional aides said in recent interviews they’re running out of patience with the former four-star general’s staffing decisions, which have disappointed Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee members hoping to see their ideological allies elevated to senior levels in the Defense Department. Others are grumbling about Mattis’s refusal to advocate for a bigger increase in the defense budget, which defense hawks believe was gutted disastrously under President Barack Obama.
“He certainly has got a tough job, but it sometimes feels like he forgets that we won the election,” said one aide to a GOP senator on the armed services committee, who declined to speak on the record for fear of publicly alienating the defense secretary.
“We’ve waited eight years for this, to be able to fill these posts with Republicans,” said another top GOP Hill staffer. “We know Trump isn’t part of the establishment and that it’s going to be a bit different, but it should go without saying that a Republican administration is expected to staff federal agencies with Republicans.”